Episode 7


What does it mean to be a brand?

One of the most critical barriers to success is understanding what a brand is and what a brand is NOT. I get this question all the time. Let me tell you what a brand is NOT: A brand is NOT a name, logo, tag-line, package design or the product itself. I call these elements: Window-dressing your brand. A brand is simply an EMOTIONAL IDENTITY that differentiates products, services and people.

As a former marketing executive at global multi-billion dollar consumer products companies like Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Cadbury and Godiva, I successfully crafted emotional identities for some of the world’s most iconic brands. Over the course of 25 years, a frequent challenge I faced was communicating the role a brand played in consumer’s lives…in other words its Core Value. To solve this problem, I developed a process to label that brand’s Core Value using just ‘One Word’. This helps consumers understand what they are actually buying.

During this series, I will select a brand I worked on or studied and share it’s ‘One Word’ Core Value, as well as share valuable topics in the branding arena that will help you Stand-Out Conquer Obstacles and Reach Excellence…in other words, SCORE.

So let’s turn to today’s brand clip…SPANX

Show Notes (click to expand)

When I speak on stages across the country, I select a brand in the market and do an interactive exercise with my audience. When I use the brand SPANX, I start by asking who in the audience wears SPANX and would like to participate. There’s always a gentlemen who yells out, “Real men don’t wear SPANX”…which is the perfect segue for me to reveal that I proudly wear a SPANX for Men Compression Shirt. I even reveal it under my shirt and, along with this reveal, comes a few laughs which I love. 


Now – truth be told – I’m a huge fan of SPANX and more importantly of Sara Blakely’s story of how she literally turned a problem she had into a Billion $$ empire…let me say that again, a Billon $$ empire. 

I’d like to share a bit of Sara’s powerful story: She spent money on a pair of Crane Pants ($98 to be exact) that hung in her closet unworn, because every time she would go to wear them, she could see her undergarments: 

Regular underwear left a panty line;
The thong wasn’t a great solution…it also left marks that others; could see.
And traditional shapewear was so thick and overdone.
She saw a need to create a perfect canvas undergarment for women. Then one day, Sara cut the feet out of her control top pantyhose, in order to wear those expensive Crane pants…and the lightbulb went off…and the idea for SPANX was born. 

Her biggest challenge: Finding a manufacturer to help her develop her prototype.

On Sara’s episode of the podcast “How I Built This” with Guy Raz, one statement really struck me.  Sara asked Sam, the owner of the manufacturing plant, why he decided to take a chance on her. He said it was her CONFIDENCE in truly believing that this idea would change the way people feel in the clothes they wore.

Sam actually bought Sara Blakely’s core value, CONFIDENCE,…not her product. This is the key insight for Entrepreneurs that want to craft a winning brand: THE ENTREPRENEUR IS THE BRAND. 



With Sam’s help, Sara went on to build her Billion $$ empire of shapewear. She infused her core value into her product, allowing her female…and male consumers to share that same CONFIDENCE she felt when wearing those Crane pants. 

With One Word, this Billion $$ brand was born.

AND let me add, Sara Blakely was crowned by Forbes as the youngest self-made female Billionaire. That’s truly INCREDIBLE.

As for me, I wear my SPANX Compression Shirt for one reason and one reason only. It makes me FEEL CONFIDENT on stage. It lifts everything up one notch to make me stand up straight and deliver my message…with CONFIDENCE.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this:

Your product is NOT your brand
Your brand is your Core Value…AND
You use your product as the vehicle to drive your Core Value.
SPANX uses their Shapewear to drive their Core Value of CONFIDENCE.
So the next time you think about SPANX, remember:


I’m Rich Keller, The CATALYST and see you next time on The CATALYST Effect!

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